Handloom industry is a traditional and also a cottage industry in India. It provides employment to the large section of poor people. However, the role and significance of the industry to the national development is declining. In fact, the industry is facing lot of problems such as men, material, methods, machines, money, marketing and management. Handloom industry is a cottage and rural based industry and the handlooms are part of an age old Indian tradition. 35 lakhs handlooms still exist in the country and 65 lakhs people are engaged in the profession. This industry contributes 15 per cent of the total cloth produced in this country. There are 470 Handloom clusters spread in all over the country in highly decentralized manner. Indian handloom industry is the largest in the world and it is low capital intensive industry
Indian Handloom Sector an Overview
Providing direct and indirect employment to more than 30 lakh weavers, handloom sector is the largest economic activity second only to agriculture in India. Despite the presence of the powerloom sector in a big way along with all its advantages, the handloom sector has been able to withstand the competition. It has also proved its indispensability on certain fronts. Wave of ethnic revivalism and effective state intervention through financial assistance and implementation of various developmental schemes have brought about more than tenfold increase in the production of handloom fabrics.
This sector contributes nearly 23% of the total cloth produced in the country. During the year 1996-97, a total production of 7235 million sq. metres of cloth was achieved. The Handloom Act passed by the parliament in 1985 aims to shield handloom weavers against powerloom and textile mill operators by reserving certain textile articles (presently eleven in number) for exclusive production by handlooms.
Some major promotional & developmental programmes formulated by the office of the Development Commissioner for Handlooms relate to (a) input support (b) employment generation programmes (c) modernization and upgradation of technology (d) market support (e) welfare measures (f) publicity. In all the schemes emphasis has been laid on assisting handloom weavers directly, including upgradation of their skills etc. Handlooms are a part of Indian heritage, they exemplify the richness and diversity of culture and thence the artistry of the weavers.
Conceptualization of the Problems At present, in the whole of Textile industry, the Handlooms-cottage sector has to co-exist with other two sectors, namely unorganized power loom sector and organized mill sector. If we look at globally, due to the huge competition of these two sectors, many developed countries gave up the handloom industry, and there are no handlooms exist at present in many of the countries.
In India also, number of handlooms in different clusters is decreasing day by day. In the last fifteen years it has come down to 43.32 lakhs from 65.5 lakhs Handloom workers engaged in this sector. As the handloom industry occupies an important place due to the economic importance, it has been realized that India cannot leave away this industry as other countries did it. On the other hand, India has to pay much more attention to safe guard this industry.
The causes for declining of handloom industry with respect to men, material, machines, methods, money, marketing and management categories have to be grouped in order to find the corresponding remedies. This type of analysis will help to effectively address and solve the problems faced by the handloom industry.